By JONAS TERRADO
Paul Lee shrugged off the pain caused by an ankle injury and a pair of sluggish performances to help Magnolia Pambansang Manok stay alive and force a deciding Game 5 in their PBA Governors’ Cup semifinal series with Meralco.
Lee’s 17 points along with five assists and two steals was one of the reasons why the Hotshots were able to prevail, 94-73, on Wednesday, March 30 after being a non-factor in the previous two outings.
The Hotshots guard could only make 5-of-15 attempts while averaging just 7.5 points during their losses in Game 2 and 3, allowing the Bolts to grab a 2-1 series lead.
But Lee made sure he would make an impact, going for broke despite dealing with his swollen ankle.
“This is not the right time na isipin ko pa to, kung baga ginamble ko na from the start so tuluy-tuloy na lang din,” Lee said after putting the series back on level terms at 2-2 inside the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
“I just played through it and meron naman akong 24 hours to recover kaya minaximize ko na,” added Lee.
The possibility of Magnolia seeing its strong title aspirations disappear with another loss was also something that prompted Lee to shrug off the injury concerns.
Lee bared that he had been playing through it since hurting his ankle prior to the start of the series.
“I just showed my mental toughness and to make sure na yung focus ko nasa game kasi importanteng laro talaga. Our backs were against the wall so yung ganung bagay di natin iniisip.”
And with Game 5 set Friday at the Big Dome, Lee said there’s no reason to use the injury as an excuse as Magnolia tries to complete another semis triumph over Meralco and arrange a title clash with Barangay Ginebra San Miguel.
MAGNOLIA 94 — Harris 34, Lee 17, Abueva 11, Jalalon 10, Corpuz 9, Barroca 5, Sangalang 4, Reavis 2, Brill 2, Wong 0, Dela Rosa 0.
MERALCO 73 — Bishop 22, Newsome 11, Almazan 8, Banchero 7, Maliksi 7, Quinto 6, Caram 4, Hodge 3, Black 3, Baclao 2, Canete 0 ,Pasaol 0.
Quarters: 20-19, 42-30, 62-52, 94-73.